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Earthquake Rocks Interior Alaska

November 4, 2002

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ A major earthquake rocked a sparsely populated area of interior Alaska early Sunday afternoon, cracking highways and roads, knocking over fuel tanks and shaking rural homes.

The magnitude 7.9 quake, centered 90 miles south of Fairbanks, was strongly felt in Anchorage about 270 miles to the south. It hit at 1:13 p.m. Alaska Standard Time, said Bruce Turner of Alaska and Tsunami Warning Center.

The state patrol said no injuries were immediately reported.

``It shook for a good 30 seconds,″ Turner said. It did not generate a tsunami, he said.

The earthquake occurred on the Denali Fault and had a shallow depth, said John Lahr, geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo. Shallow earthquakes generally are felt over a wider area.

``We expected this would have surface rupture that geologists could see on the ground and study,″ he said.

KCAM-radio in Glennallen reported that fuel tanks in the village of Slana were tipped over and nearby highways were damaged.

Paul Whitmore of tsunami warning center said the highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks was damaged and Alaska State Troopers closed the road to one lane. Cracks were reported in roads in the region.

Jill Woster said she was driving between Fairbanks and her home in North Pole when the quake began.

``The car felt like it was going to fall apart,″ she said. Woster arrived home to find pictures off the walls and on the floor, along with glassware.

Earthquakes above magnitude 7 are considered major _ capable of widespread, heavy damage.

In 1964, the ``Good Friday″ earthquake left 131 people dead in Alaska. Current measurements put that quake’s magnitude at 9.2.

A moderate earthquake shook the central Plains earlier Sunday. The 4.3 quake hit about 2:45 p.m., some 30 miles northwest of O’Neill, Neb., the geological survey said.